Chapter Three – Food Bloggers go to the Ayr Races – or more accurately to Ayr Racecourse, the superb venue for the Taste of Ayrshire Food Bloggers Conference.
What does this empty plate say to you? For me it is the sign of a good meal.
Executive Chef for the Western House Hotel and Ayr Racecourse, Donald McInnes is used to catering to the highest standards, he has worked at the Savoy in London and in Lyon in France. Donald told us that chefs have to learn to respect food, and that to retain the flavour they need to keep it simple.
Our conference was held in one of the Princess Royal private boxes overlooking the racecourse. That’s not a real horse, just a little silhouette as part of the balcony railing.
And they’re coming round the bend…where? Well they soon will be as the racecourse is a busy place with regular races. Coming up on 20th – 22nd of September is the Ayr Gold Cup, their most important event of the year.
This was our table laid out just as it will be for diners at the Gold Cup.
Our lunch came from the menu for the Ayr Gold Cup. Donald told us about how they will prepare this menu for 1200 people every day of the Gold Cup, a total of 3,500 – 4000 covers from 6 kitchens.
Our starter was a Warm Butternut Squash and Beetroot Tart with Ricotta Cheese with piccalilli and beetroot dressing. The pastry was crisp and the sweet flavours of the beetroot and butternut squash combined with the creamy cheese made it my favourite course of the meal. (see empty plate above)
The main course of Duo of Roast Sirloin of Cairnhill Farms Beef, a medallion of Scotch Sirloin with Braised Beef Tian served with a Peppercorn Sauce was slightly less successful. While the Tian of Beef had been cooked down so it melted in your mouth and the sauce was very good, my sirloin was a bit overcooked, dry and chewy which was a real pity.
Jacqueline declared this Ratatouille with Granola and Cheese topping to be delicious, although I felt that it was an unsinspiring and conservative vegetarian option for this level of cuisine.
For dessert we had a rich Chocolate and Toasted Almond Mouse with Chantilly cream, Toffee Sauce and a chocolate tuille (at least that is what is says on the menu, I wouldn’t call that chocolate cigarillo a ‘tuile’ but hey ho, it was very tasty.
The mouse was very soft and had almost a coffee flavour, the little chocolate pot had quite a thick base and some people had difficulty breaking it, but the chocolate was good and there was just enough as the flavours were intense.
I’d like to thank Ayr Racecourse and their chefs for a very good lunch, oh yes and the glass of wine 😉
What would you choose from the Gold Cup Menu?